A female inmate hand crew from and firefighters in an engine company with them set fire to reinforce the line to stave off part of the Mountain Fire burning up a hill toward them on Tuesday, July 16, 2013.
The massive Mountain Fire that has destroyed homes and is still burning in the San Jacinto Mountains was sparked on private property by failed electrical equipment, authorities revealed Thursday, 10 days after the wildfire erupted.
"The electrical equipment failure occurred on the customer side of the meter," Cal Fire said in a news release. "No further details will be released as this remains an on-going investigation.”
The Mountain Fire was reported in the early afternoon July 15 near the junction of Highway 324 and Highway 74.
In 10 days, the wildfire had scorched 42 square miles in the scenic San Jacinto mountain range. It was 92 percent contained Thursday evening, according to an online incident report from Cal Fire.
Flames from the Mountain Fire have destroyed 23 structures, including seven homes the first day of the fire.
While it's not known yet whether excess brush, neglected equipment or another factor lead to the fire, officials say there is a clear lesson.
“The biggest lesson for everybody is, a wildfire can strike at any time and that people need to be prepared,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson said.
At one point, flames reached over the crest of the mountains and within two miles of the western border of Palm Springs – draping the resort destination in a blanket of ash and smoke.
Thousands of residents were evacuated from several mountain communities, including Mountain Center, Idyllwild, Fern Valley, and Pine Cove.
All evacuation orders and warnings remained lifted Thursday evening as 146 fire personnel continued their days-long battle.
Crews worked in dry, warm conditions Thursday. Moisture is expected to roll into the region Friday and into the weekend.